el Chat w/c 27th June
Now, I’m not a lover of being away from home. I don’t think there really is any substitute for your own bed, but on this occasion, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work on a really juicy values project and to work on that project across a number of locations in Spain!
Definitely not the day of rest this week. Left the packing til the last minute and as always fretting on the wardrobe front. I love Zara and Mango and think Spanish women always look so effortlessly cool, but starting up the business has meant that the shopping has been curbed for the last few 12 months – so packing for my 15kg of hold luggage has been an ordeal. Got into Madrid at 10pm and after a hairy moment with a taxi driver who I thought was taking me down some dodgy back alleys, arrived safely at the hotel.
Up at 6.30am and ready for my trip to Boecillo (Valladolid) for the first focus group, I have to say that I’m mightily impressed with the speedy trains in Spain, complete with in train entertainment. Irene (my companion for the week) gave a run down on what to expect over the forthcoming week, and although facilitating focus groups aint that difficult, doing them in English with people who speak English as their second language is pretty nerve wracking, especially after Irene told me that I didn’t speak proper English! So, note for the day, tone down the Yorkshire.
The technology worked, the audio recording too, and the session was really thought provoking, with some good nuggets, and a great team with a good sense of humour.
In typical Spanish fashion, we went for a late lunch, and I was told to order two courses, which I didn’t, anticipating that I’d be too full for tea. Big mistake.
Early start again, off to Huesca. So that’s a taxi to the train station, train to Zaragoza, pick up the hire car and drive to Walqa, near Huesca. Had to also drag along the suitcase, which by the time I’d packed for every eventuality, like you do, was now nearing 20kg, plus my handbag. Arms like Popeye, but a bit wobblier.
It was scorching by the time we arrived with Walqa, but despite the heat and size of the business here, we had a really good turn out. They were really engaged, providing me with some really good feedback and food for thought around existing culture and current issues. After we finished up, had to hotfoot it to Zaragoza and jump on the train to Barcelona, and although we arrived late, we still managed 30 mins in the pool and Tapas on the beach!
Beautiful sunny day in Barcelona, and the hotel was directly opposite Diagonal ZeroZero, the swanky new Telefónica I+D offices, so it was a little less hectic this morning, having a little more time for breakfast, whilst looking out at the sea.
With two groups back to back in the morning, it was all go from 9am.
Really smart people, doing some cool stuff and very fixed views on what the business is doing right and what else they need to be doing. It’s refreshing to hear from people who are really happy with their jobs and love what they do. It’s been a general theme all week. We went out for a late lunch down on the beach with Colin the project sponsor and his team Laura and Irene. Felt bizarre talking business while all around us, people were sunbathing, very surreal. Managed to get an hour on the hotel rooftop before jumping on a flight to Granada. Irene was really keen for us to visit the Alhambra, but we arrived way to late. Still managed a glass of wine on the street below, and a couple of purchases from the local shops, including a pair of harem trousers, which were a bit of a mistake in hindsight!
Irene suggested that we walk to the offices in Granada, and I think we took the scenic route (arghh). I lost the use of my left arm half way through the trek, but we eventually arrived safely at the offices and jumped straight into the focus group. I’d been told before travelling to Granada that I’d find a big cultural difference between locations, but it was good to hear people talking about one culture, collaborative working, and all unprompted. Not sure what I expected, but the team were really warm and happy to chat.
We’d managed to change our flight to an early one back to Madrid, and I got back to my hotel in enough time to sit in the garden with a coffee, catch up on emails, jump on a client call, shower and go out for dinner with Colin. The Mercedes convertible he had on hire (while his car was being serviced) was a nice piece of machinery, and we drove into the centre of Madrid. He introduced me to The Market of St Michel, which was just buzzing. You can grab a bottle of wine, and wander around the market buying different types of Tapas. You then find a table or a corner, and drink and it to your hearts content. After a week of Tapas I was in need of a bit more sustinence, so we opted for an outside restaurant and a steak…heaven. Marred by a couple of eggs thrown at the car on the way out of Madrid. I’m told that’s quite normal ;-(
The last day of my tour. Really enjoyed the week and the people I’ve met, but looking forward to going home. Two sessions planned for today and both likely to be pretty challenging. Districto C (where the Telefónica Group offices are) is like a big town. The scale of the site is difficult to picture until you’re there, and it feels like a really vibrant place. The first session in Madrid was thought provoking and it was good to get insight from ex Contractors, Software Engineers and User experience specialists. The second group was a different group all together, and they got to heart of the perceived issues from the off. We had to break early and move to the café to continue our discussion, but there were really opposing views and lots of heathly debate. A great group to end on. After catching up with Colin and the team and sharing a few goodbyes, I headed off to the airport. After a stressful couple of hours courtesy of Ryanair, I was on my way home and looking forward to my weekend with the family…whilst dreaming of fish, chips and mushy peas.
What I learnt:-
- Eat when you can, because you never know when the next mealtime will be!
- Don’t wear high heels in Spain during the summer unless you want your feet to look like swollen sausages.
- Always pack light!
- How to say OK, Sure and Good in Spanish
- The Spanish work exceptionally hard and people in Telefónica I+D are very committed to their jobs…if not always on time
- I sound shocking on Audio recordings!
- Never fly Ryanair